Boise State Football Faces An Unbeatable Opponent This Season
The new world of college football is upon us. Gone are the great regional rivalries that fueled the sport's growth during the last several years. College football accelerated its road to self-destruction by embracing Name Image and Likeness and the Transfer Portal.
The announcement that USC and UCLA would leave the Pac-12 and join the Big 10. Five years ago, the mere suggestion of those two pillars deserting the Pac would be blasphemy. Today we live in a world where the Boise States of the world will one day be prohibited from competing against Oklahoma, Georgia, or any other traditional football power.
College experts believe that the current divisions of power will be consolidated from Power 5 to Power 2. The SEC and Big 10 will be enough that every other conference, including the Group of 5, will be left out of the lucrative college football playoff.
The Power 2
The Big 10 and the SEC now control every major brand in college football except Notre Dame. The Big 10's upcoming deal will make the conference the richest, followed closely by the SEC. If Big 10 decides to annex Cal, Stanford, Oregon, and Washington, they will reduce the remaining teams to the Mountain West + or the WAC 3.0.
Notre Dame remains the white whale that both conferences covet. We could see a scenario where the Big 10, the SEC, and Notre Dame decided to hold their own college football playoff. The three are so dominant that there's no need to share the revenue with any 'outside conferences.'
If the Big 10 moves on the Pac schools, then look for the SEC to bite the bullet to pluck North Carolina, Miami, Florida State, and Clemson from the ACC. The SEC with ESPN will have so much power they can afford to buy those four from the ACC.
The remaining three conferences, the Big 12, the Pac 12, and the ACC, could be on the outside looking in. All three conferences lack the major media markets of the Big 10 or the rabid fan base of the SEC. Suppose the new version of the college football playoff doesn't consist of automatic qualifiers for conference champions. In that case, these folks will be lucky to get one invitation to a twelve-team playoff.
How could traditional powers like Oregon, Oklahoma State, or Clemson be excluded from the playoff? Those teams will not have the opportunity to play in the Power 2. Why would a team guaranteed a revenue stream of eighty million dollars a year play a team that makes twenty million? The financial gap will begin to elevate those with the financial resources and the have-nots that will fight amongst themselves.
The Left Behinds
The Group of Five teams will now have to fend for themselves. Perhaps they can strike a deal with the other three to develop a version of the playoffs. We'll see if the payouts that smaller teams receive playing larger schools remain. If those revenue sources dry up, we could see some teams dropping out of FBS level football to the FSC.
Boise State has succeeded using this model to fund their growing football program. There is not a team in college football that has done more with less than the Broncos. However, those opportunities could be few and far between in the new world of college football finances. Win loss records are secondary to how big a team's television market they will bring to a perspective conference.
The Pac 12's Favorite Mountain West Team
The San Diego Tribune seriously looked at what team in the Mountain West would be an ideal candidate for the Pac 12. Their conclusion, hometown preference aside, was that San Diego State would be the best available choice for the Pac 12. San Diego is one of the largest TV markets in the country. Despite being a better national brand, Boise State doesn't have the Aztecs' viewers.
From Mark Zeigler:
"The Broncos were always considered the obvious choice, given their on-field success. But they are 15 years removed from their signature moment — beating Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl on the famed Statue of Liberty play — and 11 years from their last season-ending top 10 ranking. They haven’t won a bowl since 2017 and have won only two Mountain West championships since 2015."
"And wins and losses mean less these days than other criteria. There’s the matter of the 101st TV market and the 38th most populous state (1.4 million less than San Diego County), plus a relatively young university that is still maturing academically. In many ways, Boise State is what SDSU was 20 years ago — trending up but not there yet. US News and World Report clumps it with other national universities ranked between 299 and 391, and it has a 77-percent acceptance rate. (SDSU is 148th and 37 percent)."
Boise State Football still control it's destiny at least for this season. Let's hope for the future of college football that what happens on the field continues to count more than the money made off of it.
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